Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween

“Then Hallowe'en drew near, and the settlers planned another frolic—this time, had they but known it, of a lineage older than even agriculture; the dread Witch-Sabbath of the primal pre-Aryans, kept alive through ages in the midnight blackness of secret woods, and still hinting at vague terrors under its latter-day mask of comedy and lightness.”

--“The Curse of Yig” by H.P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop, first published in Weird Tales, 1929 November

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Russian America

“His comrades were Slavonian hunters and Russian adventurers, Mongols and Tartars and Siberian aborigines; and through the savages of the new world they had cut a path of blood.”

--Jack London, “Lost Face,” 1910

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"...is the crossroads of the world from now on."

He now spoke reflectively in a fearful mix of Rastafarian glossolalia, old African words and rearranged English, but she understood the message: ‘The people of the Caribbean are different. Their early life in Africa made them so, right from the beginning. Terrible years on the sugar plantations increased the difference between them and white people. We think different. We value different things. We live different. And we must make our living in different ways. The white man has nothing to teach us. We build a good life here, we find the money to buy his radios, his televisions, his Sony Betamaxes, his Toyotas.’

‘Everything you mentioned comes from Japan, not from white people.’

Ras-Negus, always displeased when reality was thrust into his dreams, ignored this...

--James Michener, Caribbean, 1989

Sunday, October 07, 2007

El Paso

by Marty Robbins
released in 1959

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl
Nighttime would find me in Rosa's cantina
Music would play and Felina would whirl

Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina
Wicked and evil while casting her spell
My love was deep for this Mexican maiden
I was in love, but in vain I could tell

One night a wild young cowboy came in
Wild as the West Texas wind
Dashing and daring, a drink he was sharing
With wicked Felina, the girl that I loved

So in anger
I challenged his right for the love of this maiden
Down went his hand for the gun that he wore
My challenge was answered in less than a heartbeat
The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor

Just for a moment I stood there in silence
Shocked by the foul, evil deed I had done
Many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there
I had but one chance and that was to run

Out through the back door of Rosa's I ran
Out where the horses were tied
I caught a good one, it looked like it could run
Up on its back and away I did ride

Just as fast as
I could from the West Texas town of El Paso
Out to the badlands of New Mexico

Back in El Paso my life would be worthless
Everything's gone in life, nothing is left
It's been so long since I've seen the young maiden
My love is stronger than my fear of death

I saddled up and away I did go
Riding alone in the dark
Maybe tomorrow a bullet will find me
Tonight nothing's worse than this pain in my heart

And at last here
I am on the hill overlooking El Paso
I can see Rosa's cantina below
My love is strong and it pushes me onward
Down off the hill to Felina I go

Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys
Off to my left ride a dozen or more
Shouting and shooting I can't let them catch me
I have to make it to Rosa's back door

Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel
A deep burning pain in my side
Though I am trying to stay in the saddle
I'm getting weary, unable to ride

But my love for
Felina is strong, and I rise where I've fallen
Though I am weary I can't stop to rest
I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle
I feel the bullet go deep in my chest

From out of nowhere Felina has found me
Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side
Cradled by two loving arms that I'll die for
One little kiss and Felina, good-bye

* * *
I read once somewhere that the ironic tragedy of "El Paso" is that the narrator is not shot for being a murderer--they had been in a bar; there would have been witnesses that the cowboy had gone for his gun first. The narrator is chased and shot for being a horse thief.